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Review: Fontaines D.C. – 10/01/20 – O2 Academy, Newcastle

14/01/2020

Newcastle and Dublin are both known for their hedonism so when Fontaines D.C. came to the North East, it was an inevitable gathering of like minded souls…

Fellow Dublin-based band Melts provided support. This quintet has emerged from the same Dublin post-punk pool as the headliners. While the audience weren’t football chanting along to Melts’ songs like they would for Fontaines D.C., the band brought brooding charisma in spades to an already bustling O2. 

The crowd is an intriguing mix. There are countless musos who were probably sent here by Radio 6 and Rough Trade. Both have lauded the band’s debut album ‘Dogrel’ as their favourite of 2019. However, in equal measure there are people here simply to enjoy a Dublin style knees-up, as well as older punk fans grasping onto the slight resurgence the genre has seen in the last couple of years. 

Fontaines D.C. give a performance that is just as varied as the crowd. They gallop through set-opener ‘Hurricane Laughter’ so frantically it could give spectators whiplash. The word ‘gallop’ particularly springs to mind as the stage backdrop shows two illustrated severed horse heads- a probable nod to The Godfather (the film that inspired their band name). 

Meanwhile we reach peak-barroom shanty in the shape of ‘Dublin City Sky’- complete with a half sang cry of “all together now!”. Swathes of the crowd sway along and shout out the lyrics with liquor fuelled vigour. Although the enthusiasm of the crowd and the talent of the band is commendable, sadly the venue lacks some of the intimacy or character of Temple Bar but it shares the drink prices. 

Contact with the audience was minimal but frontman Grian Chatten throwed the occasional bone with a semi-mumbled “hello” or “thank you” in his low pitched Irish drawl. Regardless of what Chatten & co. did, the crowd lapped it up. They were there for the tunes and the clout of seeing a critically acclaimed band rather than niceties.  

Fontaines D.C. do well as balladeers but it’s on their urgent, punk driven numbers where they truly thrive. ‘Too Real’ flashes by- warped, dizzying, thrilling – Chatten delivers the verses like beat poetry. It’s a definite standout, joined by more singalong-friendly tracks: ‘Sha Sha Sha’, ‘Boys In The Better Land’ and ‘Liberty Belle’. 

The latter two on the list join ‘Dublin City Sky’ as puzzle pieces in Fontaines D.C.’s depiction of their city. This quintet’s gloomy collage recalls how Joyce also chose to present numerous snapshots of their native city in his short story collection ‘Dubliners’. Lyrically there’s that same love-hate attitude towards the place too. On ‘Liberty Belle’ Chatten quips “You know I love that violence /That you get around here/ That kind of ready-steady violence/ That violent ‘how do you do?’…’

The band are known for not giving encores but they’re correct in thinking that ‘Big’ is the best choice to end their show. This final ode to their hometown is a chaotic delight. It’s only flaw is that the hook ‘My childhood was small/ But I’m gonna be big”- is an outdated prophecy that’s been long fulfilled. 

PHOTOS: ADAM TAYLOR

WORDS: TESSA BURY

For more photos from the show head over to our Gig Gallery here… 

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